A hearty thanks to the guys over at Engadget for pointing us toward this little gem. The super sophisticated laser scanners used to create 3D rendering of solid objects cost thousands of dollars. This software makes your average garden variety laser pointer, decent web cam, and modest PC into a high tech studio on the cheap
DAVID is a freeware software for laser range scanning. All you need is a PC , a camera (e.g. a web cam), a background corner, and a laser which projects a line onto the object you want to scan. So everyone can use it to scan objects without high costs; this is the big advantage over commercial solutions which are rather expensive.
DAVID has been developed by the computer scientists Dr. Simon Winkelbach and Sven Molkenstruck from the Institute for Robotics and Process Control, Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany. The concept has been published as a paper at the German Association for Pattern Recognition (DAGM, Deutsche Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Mustererkennung) and can be downloaded here.
The object you want to scan has to be put into the corner of a room or in front of two planes with an exact angle of 90°. The camera of course has to be pointed towards the object. The special thing about our solution is that you freely hold the laser in your hand, "brushing" the laser line over the object. Meanwhile the computer automatically calculates 3D coordinates of the scanned object surface.